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Our Approach

ECMC Foundation uses a range of funding methods, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments to support nonprofit and for-profit organizations that are working to improve postsecondary outcomes for students from underserved backgrounds.

In keeping with our core values, we prioritize investments that improve postsecondary persistence and degree completion for students from underserved backgrounds and advance systemic change.

Strategic Grantmaking

ECMC Foundation awards more than $40 million in project-based grants each year that support organizational capacity building, new program or model development, existing program refinement or expansion, capital, research and evaluation. A key aspect of our approach is a commitment to being aware of and responsive to developments in the field of higher education. As a result, we continue to use an open letter of inquiry process and reserve funding for projects that are strategically responsive, that is, they do not fit within one of our established initiatives but are connected to one or more of our strategic priorities:

Removing barriers to postsecondary completion

We bolster programs that directly support learner success by meeting the unique needs, goals and aspirations of today’s diverse learner populations.

Building the capacity of organizations, systems and institutions

We strengthen the capacity of higher education institutions, systems, and other support and service organizations to improve outcomes for today’s learners and evolve to meet the changing needs of learners.

Transforming the postsecondary ecosystem

We support large-scale, cross-sector collaborations and innovations that have the potential to transform the postsecondary ecosystem in service of more equitable outcomes for the learners of today and tomorrow.


An initiative represents the Foundation’s commitment to working toward systemic change in or through an area of the postsecondary ecosystem. A number of existing and emerging bodies of work are being deepened and expanded as initiatives, and new opportunities will be identified as the Foundation evolves in its learning. Established initiatives include:

Basic Needs Initiative

CTE Leadership Collaborative Initiative

Men of Color Initiative

Rural Impact Initiative

Single Mother Student Success Initiative

Transfer and Credit Mobility Initiative

Education Innovation Ventures

ECMC Foundation’s program-related investment portfolio makes catalytic investments into non-profit and for-profit ventures that seek to generate both social impact and financial returns.

Complementing ECMC Foundation’s strategic grantmaking, the Education Innovation Ventures (EIV) program provides flexible, risk capital to early-stage ventures working to increase postsecondary educational outcomes and economic mobility for learners and jobseekers from underserved backgrounds. Through program-related investments, EIV’s capital generates impact alongside financial returns, which are recycled to fund further impact initiatives.

Learn more about Education Innovation Ventures

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What We're Learning

As a learning organization, ECMC Foundation prioritizes learning and evaluation as one of its core values.

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